William Welstead
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Sheep have been associated with humans for over 10,000 years, but are poorly represented in poetry and criticism. The animal turn has the potential to rectify this marginalisation of a species that has played an important part in the formation of both the landscape and the agro-pastoral culture. Concepts such as natureculture allow for the exchange across the species boundary to be acknowledged. New readings of poems about sheep can provoke new ways of interrogating the natural world. Sheep, in common with other ruminants, emit methane which, as a powerful greenhouse gas, is an important contributor to global heating. The animal turn recognises the sentience and agency of other species, but also brings with it a need to reconsider whether it is right to eat meat. There is no escaping the complexity of the moral implications which require a choice between the welfare of the individual animal or the extinction of the whole species. This book claims a place for sheep in the literary discussion of the animal turn and shows how this turn can complicate ecocritical discussion of the pastoral.

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Writing on sheep

Ecology, the animal turn and sheep in poetry


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